Celebrating those who protect Norfolk’s coast

They help protect the coastline of Norfolk and are on call 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

Over the years they have been responsible for saving thousands of lives and now the work of independent lifeboat crews is set to be recognised with a special day.

Tomorrow, independent lifeboat crews across the country are being invited to take part in a 'Go Orange' fund-raising event, organised by Independent Lifeboats UK, which aims to highlight the work of the independent lifeboats which operate outside the RNLI.

Two of the four independent stations in Norfolk are based in north Norfolk, at Mundesley and Sea Palling.

All crews are made up of volunteers who are on call 24/7 and regularly help the coastguard.

Palling Volunteer Rescue Service was set up in 1974, with annual running costs around �12,500 each year.

Last year they had one of their busiest times, responding to 19 call-outs.

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Station officer Ian Flaxman said: 'Having a day to recognise independent crews is important as most people think all lifeboats are RNLI-run. We need people to know there are independent crews out there and the work we do is very valid.'

He said for Go Orange day the most important thing was raising awareness, and to that end Rob Breeze, a helmsman with the crew who works as a teacher at North Walsham High School, has been organising talks about the work of the crew with pupils.

They have also encouraged students to collect as much money as they can – and say depending on how much is raised by Friday they will take the head of the school, Caroline Brooker, out on the boat and 'chuck' her in the sea, before 'rescuing' her.

Mundesley Inshore Lifeboat, which has running costs of around �20,000 a year including �6,000 alone on insurance costs, was set up in 1972 and has taken part in the rescue of some 100 people in trouble including fishing boats windsurfers swimmers and divers.

It is made up of approximately 70 people – 20 crew, 15 directors 15 fund-raisers and 20 shop helpers.,

Liz Payne, chairman of Mundesley Lifeboat friends committee, said as yet they had not firmed up exactly what they would be doing on the actual independent lifeboat day as it was a Friday and difficult to arrange something with all the crew.

She said: 'We have lots of fund-raising events throughout the year to 'keep the boat afloat' as it were, including our panto which we put on every year. We also have a charity shop in the village which is a good source of income.

'We are quite confident we will be around for the foreseeable future, we have a lot of support in the village.'

The other independent lifeboats in Norfolk are Caister and Hemsby.